While the rest of the Civic Auditorium appears to be nearing its end, the Music Hall just might have a second act in its future.
A study examining the Civic Auditorium's current condition concluded that the Music Hall "could be made a very productive venue for years to come" — with repairs and remodeling.
The study even considered the possibility of razing the Civic's arena and Mancuso Convention Hall while turning the Music Hall into a stand-alone building.
As major tenants leave the Civic, the 2,315-seat Music Hall has remained relatively well-used for dance recitals, occasional concerts and comedy acts. Currently three concerts and comedian Gabriel Iglesias are on the schedule in the coming months.
Of course, any renovation will come with a cost, and it's unclear how much the City of Omaha is willing to spend on any project.
The study found $29 million in maintenance needs throughout the aging auditorium at 17th Street and Capitol Avenue — and Mayor Jim Suttle has said the city doesn't have the funds to pay the repair tab. The Music Hall alone has almost $2.3 million in outstanding electrical and structural needs.
The study did not figure the cost for updates beyond routine maintenance or for making the Music Hall its own building.
Aida Amoura, Suttle's spokeswoman, said the stand-alone option is interesting because the Music Hall is still being used.
However, she said the city needs to determine how much that might cost and whether separating the Music Hall would be feasible, given the intertwined building systems.
Jim Vokal, chairman of the board for the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority, which runs the Civic, said the possibility is worth researching because "that's the part of the facility that does work and has demand."
Anchor tenants at the Civic arena — the Omaha Lancers hockey team and perhaps the Omaha Beef indoor football team — are moving out, leaving for the new arena coming to Ralston.
But Vokal cautioned that he didn't know how much it would cost to separate the Music Hall from the rest of the building.
The study, funded by the nonprofit fundraising group Heritage Services, was conducted by architecture and engineering firm DLR Group.
The study's authors acknowledged they gave only a cursory review to the stand-alone building option. Still, they assert the separation, while complicated, could happen "through careful planning and demolition."
One main problem is that the Music Hall's entire mechanical system is underneath the arena. The hall, which is not designed to be its own building, would need a thorough review of the load-bearing capacity of its foundation and walls, the study said.
At any rate, the Music Hall needs routine updates.
All of the seats and carpeting need to be replaced, the study said. The roof needs immediate attention, it said, because large amounts of water are leaking in, causing further damage and taking time for major cleanups.
Still, the study said: "The space performs very well acoustically and its layout provides for excellent sight lines."
Contact the writer: